A Strategy for Writing Up Research Results

| Get Organized | Literature Review | Introduction | Design and Methods |
|Analyze Your Data | Results | Discussion | Abstract and Title | Self-Revise |
| Peer Review | Prepare Final Draft |

Get Organized: Lists, Outlines, Notecards, etc. Before starting to write the paper, take the time to
think about and develop a list of points to be made in the paper. As you progress, use whichever
strategy works for you to begin to order and to organize those points and ideas into sections.
A. Balanced Review of the Primary Research Literature: Do an in-depth, balanced review of the
primary research literature relevant to your study questions prior to designing and carrying out the
experiments. This review will help you learn what is known about the topic you are investigating and
may let you avoid unnecessarily repeating work done by others. This literature will form the basis of
your Introduction and Discussion. Training in on-line searches is available from the Reference
Librarians. Do your search early enough to take advantage of the Interlibrary Loan System if need be.
B. Write the Introduction: Once your hypothesis has been refined for testing, you will draft the
Introduction to your paper. In PI courses you will bring a draft of the Introduction to lab the day of
the experiment for critique by an instructor or TWA (Technical Writing Assistant).
C. Design and Conduct the Experiment: Keep careful notes on procedures used during the
experiment . You should write the Materials and Methods section upon completion of the
D Analyze and Interpret the Results: Once the data are collected, you must analyze and interpret
the results. Analysis will include data summaries (e.g., calculating means and variances) and
statistical tests to verify conclusions. Most scientists lay out their Tables and Figures upon
completion of the data analysis before writing the Results section. Write the Table and Figure
legends. It is good practice to note the one or two key results that each Table or Figure conveys and
use this information as a basis for writing the Results section. Sequence and number the Tables and
Figures in the order which best enables the reader to reach your conclusions.
E. Write the Results Section: Remember that the Results section has both text and illustrative
materials (Tables and Figures). Use the text component to guide the reader through your key results,
i.e., those results which answer the question(s) you investigated. Each Table and Figure must be
referenced in the text portion of the results, and you must tell the reader what the key result(s) is
that each Table or Figure conveys.
F. Write the Discussion: Interpretation of your results includes discussing how your results modify
and fit in with what we previously understood about the problem. Review the literature again at this
time. After completing the experiments you will have much greater insight into the subject, and by
How to Write a Paper in Scientific Journal Style and Format (pdf) Bates College
http://abacus.bates.edu/~ganderso/biology/resources/writing/HTWstrategy.html 2
going through some of the literature again, information that seemed trivial before, or was
overlooked, may tie something together and therefore prove very important to your own
interpretation. Be sure to cite the works that you refer to.
G. Write the Abstract and Title: The Abstract is always the last section written because it is a
concise summary of the entire paper and should include a clear statement of your aims, a brief
description of the methods, the key findings, and your interpretation of the key results. The Title will
probably be written earlier, but is often modified once the final form of the paper clearly known.
H. Self-Revise Your Paper: Most authors revise their papers at least 2-3x before giving it out for peer
review. Go back over your paper now and read it carefully; read it aloud. Does it say what you
wanted it to say? Do any ideas, experiments, or interpretations need to be moved around within the
text to enhance the logical flow of your arguments? Can you shorten long sentences to clarify them?
Can you change passive verbs to active forms? Do the Tables and Figures have sufficient information
to stand alone outside the context of the paper? Use your dictionary to correct spelling and your spell
checker to catch typos.
I. Peer Review: Have knowledgeable colleagues critique your paper. Use their comments to revise
your paper yet again


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